Greenfield Avenue reopens as crews continue cleanup after West Allis train derailment

WEST ALLIS -- The cleanup continues in West Allis following the large train derailment that happened Thursday, July 6th. Workers are still clearing the bridge and the street below Friday, July 7th. It's caused a lengthy closure in the area of 104th and Greenfield Avenue.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

The derailment forced the closure of Greenfield Avenue just east of Highway 100. Crews, however, have cleaned up enough so Greenfield Avenue could reopen just after 6:00 p.m. Friday.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

On the ground Friday afternoon, each gust of wind kicks up a cloud of coal dust. From high above, scale of the wreckage shows the 20 of 145 cars that derailed. The accident happened around 6:00 p.m. Thursday night.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

"The first step is to move the coal out of the cars and the area and then, once we're able to do that, we'll get in there and move the debris from the cars," said Union Pacific Spokeswoman, Raquel Espinoza.

From the bridge and beyond, there's a whole lot of coal that needs to be collected.

"I was out bumming around today so I thought why not stop," said Jake Zeller, who visited derailment.

Zeller traveled from Muskego to scoop up a handful of the spilled coal himself.

"I don't know, it's kind of cool. I've never had actual coal from the ground," said Zeller.

Others navigate around the tape to get to work.

"It does put a little damper on it but we're getting through it; we can squeak by a little bit," said Chris Williams, who works near the scene.

In the back of Lincoln Park mobile park home in West Allis, the sounds of crashing metal and heavy equipment fill the summer air.

"About 11:30 everything started rolling in here and the noise started," said Nick Kohls, neighbor.

Crews are working to move railroad tracks and toppled cars as spilled coal covers parts of the ground.

"A lot of trucks have been coming and getting the coal out and everything," said Lori Loewus, neighbor.

West Allis train derailment cleanup

Union Pacific owns the train and the tracks. The company says it last inspected the bridge in May and had just inspected the tracks on Thursday.

"We made the proper inspections, including the bridge, and in the last inspection, we found no irregularities that would impede us from operating over this line," Espinoza said.

West Allis Train Derailment

Union Pacific says the entire operation will take time but they want to get Greenfield Avenue fully reopen as soon as possible.

"We realize this is a major disruption for our neighbors in the community and we apologize for that," Espinoza said.

Investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration are also on the scene. An agency spokeswoman in Washington says the FRA is monitoring the situation closely.

West Allis train derailment cleanup